Those who have yet to experience these miniature masterpieces are in for a treat. The Leopold String Trio, considered one of the world’s most outstanding string trios, here perform these works with remarkable virtuosity and expression.
Dohnányi’s evocative five-movement Serenade in C (1902) is typical of nineteenth-century writing, heavily influenced by Brahms and by the traditions of the composers’ homeland – in this case Hungarian folk melodies. The haunting fourth movement (it is a set of five variations) with its chorale-like theme is a beautiful piece with an almost Schubertian lyricism.
In contrast Schoenberg’s String Trio (1946) is a single movement which comprises five spans, three ‘Parts’ divided by two ‘Episodes’, and is the last in a significant body of chamber music for strings which had encompassed five string quartets and the string sextet Verklärte Nacht. It simultaneously offers the most extreme writing, both technically and emotionally. He employs many string tricks – trills, tremolandos, harmonics, pizzicato, col legno – creating a ‘psychological storm’ of rhythmic outbursts of frightening intensity.
In 1923 the Czech-born Martinu moved to Paris to join the avant-garde; there he experimented with jazz and neoclassicism in the manner of Les Six. The String Trio No 2 (1934) is in two movements, its floating, lyrical passages and mild use of folksong create a magical, mysterious atmosphere.
'This warmly engineered recording from the Leopold String Trio must rank amongst the finest ever commited to disc, the players relishing every opportunity to demonstrate their individual virtuosity whilst at the same time ensuring that subtlety of nuance and variety of texture are the order of the day...' (BBC Music Magazine)
'the Leopold Trio have their own strengths, not least a warm, pooled tone, a relaxed demeanour and an ability to search out the subtler aspects of the score. The sound is consistently excellent; add Calum MacDonald's authoritative notes and you have a confident recommendation' (Gramophone)
'This is a beautifully played and recorded program. Their performances here are superb … This new CD is a most desirable release. That's a "buy" recommendation' (Fanfare, USA)
'[The Leopold String Trio] have a vibrant yet relaxed approach to the music that makes one listen carefully, and they handle this varied and demanding repertoire with satisfying intensity' (American Record Guide)
Serenade C-Dur op. 10 (für Violine, Viola und Violoncello)
1. Marcia: Allegro
2. Romanza: Adagio non troppo
3. Scherzo: Vivace
4. Tema con variaziono: Andante con moto
5. Finale: Rondo
Trio für Violine, Viola und Violoncello op. 45 (1946)
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Trio für Violine, Viola und Violoncello Nr. 2 (1934)